By Khetsirin Pholdhampalit
The Nation Weekend
NO ONE is going to stumble by chance on the Oqposite, a Bangkok cafe. It’s hidden in a residential compound in an alley behind Wat Sommanat. You have to find the house nameplate that says “Baan Sathapitavej” and go through the gate. Oqposite is the building right in front of you, next to a cluster of residences where the family lives.
Siblings Donruedee and Piyamon Bantadthong set out to do something clever with the dilapidated two-storey wooden garage in the compound, and Oqposite is the result. They’d both tired of their full-time jobs – Donruedee at a marketing firm and Piyamon plying her certificate from Le Cordon Bleu Dusit Culinary School in various food-industry positions.
The Oqpostie, a concealed gem in Bangkok’s Nanglerng area, looks intentionally unfinished with its crumbling bricks and flaked plaster. The food, by contrast, is intentionally scrumptious.
“We decided to run our own business and make use of our own area,” says Donruedee. “We want this place to be a hideaway where you can spend some leisure time with a good cup of coffee and tempting comfort food.”
The sisters initially envisioned the cafe as a loft, but the creaky garage was too fragile, so they has a new steel structure built and decorated with some of the old woodwork to evoke a little nostalgia.
Both the exterior and interior deliberately look unfinished – or maybe overdue for demolition – with their aged surfaces, crumbling bricks and plaster and worn patterns on the floor tiles. On the roof is flaking, rusty corrugated zinc, on the walls smears of paint and plaster.
The cafe’s appearance is quite literally the opposite of what’s gone into the planning.
On the second floor is an old bookcase filled with novels that haven’t been thumbed since the sisters’ grandma, Pratin Sathapitanon, was alive. She was a great cook, they say, and Baan Lae Suan Publishing collated some of her recipes in “Dishes of the Sathapitanon Family”.
There’s also an outdoor balcony that’s lovely for loitering.
“The building might look unfinished, but it’s very welcoming when you come in and have a seat,” says
Donruedee. “The tables and chairs are a jumble of contemporary and vintage style. The ladies’ restroom has a dark portrait of a man and the men’s room is vice versa, all black with a portrait of a woman done in a white palette.”
Design students and other alert readers will have realised that Oqposite isn’t an Inuit word but in fact spells “opposite”, with the “q” just being contrary.
At lunchtime on weekdays, the eatery is busy with the folks who work nearby at the UN office, Government House and Bank of Thailand. If you want to chill out, it’s better to go in the late afternoon or on a weekend.
Piyamon has made good use of the family recipes on the menu.
Stir-fried Shrimp Fat with Rice
When she was a child, her grandma often cooked stir-fried shrimp fat with rice, and that’s become a signature dish of the cafe, selling for Bt180. The shrimp fat is first cooked sous-vide and then quickly stir-fried with oil, ground coriander root, garlic, pepper and roasted chilli paste. As well as rice, it comes with a boiled egg and seafood sauce to cut the oiliness.
The in-house tom yum sauce is slightly spicy and tangy and appears in two dishes.
Taco Tom Yum Goong
Taco Tom Yum Goong (Bt190) is a perfect appetiser, a crisp tortilla spread with the sauce and topped with mozzarella cheese and shrimp. Adjust the taste with the lemon slice, dried chilli and coriander leaf served on the side.
Tom Yum Spaghetti
Tom Yum Spaghetti (Bt250) pairs al dente pasta with shrimp, all rendered smooth with milk and cream.
Also worth trying is Spaghetti with Bacon and Garlic (Bt220), featuring sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese.
“I dry my own tomatoes because the kind imported from Italy are too tangy,” says Piyamon, who has previously worked in the kitchens of the Novel Siam and a casino-hotel in San Diego, California.
Spaghetti with Bacon and Garlic
“I use local cherry tomatoes that I keep preserved in sugar before sun-drying them. The bacon is cut thick and seared so it’s half-crispy and half-soft. The dish is slightly sweet and a little salty.”
Piyamon comes up with around five choices of sweet treats every day. You might get Caramel Pudding, Strawberry Shortcake, Tart Chocolate or Orange Yoghurt, with prices ranging from Bt140 to Bt160.
The drinks on offer are in keeping with the concept of opposites, using contrasting ingredients, colours, looks and tastes.
The Oqposite Berry (Bt155) is berry tea topped with cold brew coffee of medium-roasted blends from Ethiopian, Brazilian and Thai beans. The Honey Matcha (also Bt155) is yellow with honey lemon juice and green with green tea.
CRAVE THE CONTRASTS
The Oqpostie is on Paniang Road off Nakhon Sawan Road and opposite the crematoriun of Wat Sommanat in Bangkok.
It’s open daily except Tuesday from 9am to 8pm.
Call (089) 523 9824 or visit www.TheOqposite.com.